GOOD

One Month After the Earthquake, Japan Hustles to Keep Students on Track

Two-thirds of schools in the ravaged northeastern coastal region are destroyed or damaged, but students will be heading back to class next week.

A little over a month after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster, it's back to school time in Japan. The island nation's school year began in the first week of April, and officials plan to have students living in some of the most affected coastal areas hitting the books as early as April 20. If it sounds like too much too soon for surviving students who are surely suffering from post-traumatic stress and living in shelters, officials say getting back into a routine will help children regain a sense of normalcy.


Another reason for getting the education system up and running in tsunami ravaged areas is the high academic expectations set for Japanese students. The nation's high stakes university entrance examination process is well-known for its intensity, meaning students who fall behind even slightly are at risk of not passing the test, and thus not gaining admission to school.

For younger students, since repeating a grade is pretty much unheard of in Japan, delaying the start of the school year will almost certainly mean they'll also fall behind their peers. To keep that from happening, some teachers have even been assigning homework to kids living in shelters.

Psychologists and school counselors from across Japan are being trained and sent to the hardest hit areas in order to address mental health and other issues facing students. However, the decision to start school so quickly isn't without some serious logistical challenges.

Two-thirds of schools in the hardest hit coastal regions, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, were damaged or completely destroyed. Okawa Elementary in the city of Ishinomaki, suffered severe structural damage to the main building and other parts of the campus were completely swept away by the tsunami.

Far more tragic, however, is the loss of life the school community suffered. Seventy-four out of 108 students were killed in the disaster and only one teacher survived. For the remaining 34 students, the school year starts on April 21, a mere two weeks later than usual. Students from Okawa and other similarly affected schools will simply be moved to structurally sound campuses. Students and their families from the area surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant have already been permanently relocated to areas outside the danger zone.

Overcrowding in the remaining schools is sure to be a problem, especially since most schools are also being used as shelters. The educational road ahead for these kids affected by the disaster definitely isn't going to be easy, but you have to admire the national push to get things up and running for them again so soon.

photo (cc) via Flickr user manduhsaurus

Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet